The leather processing and leather product manufacturing sector is amongst the most lucrative agro based sector in the world. The sector is characterized by a long value chain with multiple socio-economic dimensions such as enhanced employability, creation of wealth and acts as a precursor towards rural development. The sector is playing a significant role in the world economy development and it stands as one of the most widely commercialized commodities in the world.
Africa is fast emerging as one of the future markets for sourcing quality leather and leather products for the booming global industry.Ethiopia’s Leather processing and products manufacturing sector, were identified as the main priority sectors of the economy under GTP II (2016-2020) to contribute substantially to the growth of the manufacturing sector in the country (FDRE-GTP II, 2015).
The labor-intensive nature of the sector, its modest sophistication in technological requirements combined with Ethiopia’s large resource base for the raw material (mainly livestock) needs of the industry makes the Leather and leather products sector a good candidate to be considered as a priority deserving special support to expand its sustainable production and achieve competitiveness at international level.
Ethiopia possess one of the world’s largest livestock population with 57 million cattle ranking 1st in Africa and 6th in the world; 28 million sheep ranking 3rd in Africa and 10th in the world and more than 29 million goat ranking 3rd in Africa and 8th in the world (AALF 2017). This puts Ethiopia at the center of the booming leather industry as a key supplier of hides and skin raw, leather and leather products for domestic and global markets.
Ethiopia is making its utmost efforts in using its large number of livestock populations to enhance the leather and leather products manufacturing industries and gain the expected foreign currency from the sector. The Ethiopian government is supporting the sector with special attention through creating conducive policy environment for investment in the sector.
It is recognized that; Ethiopia is emerging as the Leather hub of Eastern Africa. Considering the fact, currently Ethiopian Institute of Textile and Fashion Technology, Bahir Dar University (EiTEX-BDU) is running BSc Degree programs in Leather Engineering since 2012 and BSc Degree in Leather Product Engineering since 2019 to cater the needs of the different stakeholders it becomes imminent to grow in the fields of research and achieve the vision.
Moreover, the institute aims to initiate, develop and sustain research activities that are critical for the conditioning of the advancement of the Ethiopian industries and stakeholders involved in leather processing and leather products manufacturing.
2. Background on Leather processing and product Research and Innovation center
Leather processing and products research center (LPP-RIC) is one of the research and innovation centers in Ethiopian Institute of Textile and Fashion Technology, Bahir Dar University (EiTEX-BDU). The center is established in the year 2020 and it is among the five pillar research and innovation centers in EiTEX-BDU.
As a research and innovation center under EiTEX, LPP-RIC mainly concerned on development of professionals, research laboratories, researches and income generation in the following core disciplines.
- Animal husbandry & technological advancements in Livestock production;
- Leather processing and finishing;
- Leather products designing and pattern making
- Leather cutting and sewing technology;
- Leather product construction;
- Footwear closing and bottom component technology;
- Leather accessories and design;
- Physical and chemical testing of leather and leather products;
- Leather and leather products marketing;
- Waste management;
- Consulting small media and higher leather industry.
The LPP-RIC has two LRI teams (learning, research and implementation teams) and works for enhancement of quality teaching-learning, problem solving research and innovation tasks and transferable technology and other dissemination activities.
These LRI are:
- Leather Technology LRI (LT-LRI)
- Leather Products Technology LRI (LPT-LRI)
As a purpose in meeting the vision of the institute as per nation demand the LPP-RIC is launched among other development programs to excel in research, innovation and dissemination activities aimed at providing efficient support to the leather processing and products manufacturing industry, educational institutions and stakeholders. The center is organized to provide well trained leather chemists, leather products designers and producers, and researchers/innovators to the market in the fields of leather technology and leather products technology.
With this regard the LPP-RIC is striving to support the stakeholders and the nation as a whole supplying transferable knowledge and skills through continuous and effective research and dissemination activities. On the spot at the ground the LPP-RIC is engaged in ensuring quality teaching-learning process, problem-solving and transferable research and training; and outcome-based dissemination (technology transfer, community service, scientific publications, and academic seminars) activities. These activities are in line with the set missions and vision of the University and institute cascaded from the expectations of the sector as per the growth and transformation plan of the government.
2.1. Vision of Leather Processing and Products Research and Innovation Center (LPP-RIC)
- To become one of the three research and innovation centers in Leather processing and leather products manufacturing in Africa by 2025 recognized for its problem solving and transferable research to the society.
2.2. Mission of Leather Processing and Products Research and Innovation Center
- To develop teaching-learning and research laboratories, and create suitable environment by which academician and students scale-up their academic excellence and potentials by involving in research and innovation activities and transferring acquired knowledge and skills in a systematic way to large, medium and small scale industries and community at regional and national level.
- To attract, initiate and establish collaborative research activities with industries, universities and research organizations at national level and beyond.
- To enhance research outcomes publication and dissemination.
- To develop new curriculums (BSc, MSc and Ph.D programs) based on sector’s market demand at national level with close cooperation among foreign partner HEIs and Organizations.
- To build and strengthen academicians, industry employees, SME, TVET staff and stakeholder’s competence, know-how and skills through study programs, industry visit and short term training.
- To build and strengthen multidisciplinary collaborative links with Universities, Industries and stakeholders at national level and beyond.
- To generate income through short term training, consultancy service and grant project proposal writing.
3. About Leather Engineering and Leather Products Engineering Specialization
Leather Engineering and Leather Product Engineering are professions those deal with the application of scientific and engineering principles to the design and control of all aspects of leather processing and products manufacturing and machinery, leather materials, leather chemistry and waste management. These include leather materials, interactions of materials with machine, safety and health, energy conservation, and waste and pollution control.
Additionally, the professionals are also enabled to do leather processing and products plant design and layout, leather product manufacturing design and improvement, designing and creating leather products, controlling physical and chemical properties in all stages of the leather production, evaluating and marketing of leather items, reducing solid wastes and effluents of the leather industry and converting these wastes to a suitable form for achieving to the economy as an additional value.
Some of the typical career options where Leather Engineering and Leather product Engineering professionals are expected to work are:
- Leather processing and products industry and technical service management.
- Plant design, equipment selection, installation and maintenance;
- Implement Leather and leather products testing and quality control activities.
- Implement applied research work to solve problems in manufacturing, process development and improvement of existing products.
- Leather and leather product sales and marketing
- Offer technical service, input and knowledge for the higher policy-making bodies of the nation, region for the development of leather industry.
3.1. Potential Employers
Leather Engineers can work in leather and leather product manufacturing enterprises, industries, academics, research organizations, etc.
Employment can be found in different sectors of the following fields:
- Leather processing and Leather products manufacturing factories in public and private sectors;
- Quality and standards associations of national and international levels;
- Industry support institutions;
- Leather import and export agencies;
- Environmental protection authorities;
- Research associations;
- Academic institutions in the capacity of teaching staff;
- Governmental agencies (concerning to leather Industry Development);
- Financial Institutions (in relation to the financing of leather Industry projects) etc.
Undergraduate: Leather Engineering (B.Sc.); Leather Product Engineering (B.Sc.),
5. Rationale of Leather Processing and Product Research and Innovation Centre
Ethiopia’s Leather processing and products manufacturing, were among the key productive sub-sector of the economy identified under GTP II (2016-2020) (FDRE-GTP II, 2015). However, the Ethiopian industries and SME’s are not producing leather and leather products as expected in the global market. Along with this the total share of export in the sector is not also as per the expectations. To this end it has become necessary to create specialized professionals and researchers in the area of leather processing and products which support the industries, SME and stakeholders to maximize their involvement in producing good quality leather and leather products and ultimately will be able to maximize the export share. One of the pillars of ensuring socio-economic development through increased income is conducting problem-oriented researches and community service activity applying the knowledge and technologies generated thereof in fostering the development process.
With this regard it has become necessary to create specialized professions in universities and allied institutes intended to work on specific research and innovation to address the critical demands. The first and only research innovation center in Ethiopia, LPP-RiC is organized under EiTEX to fill these critical ad timely demands.
This rationale is expected to be implemented by conducting effective teaching learning, problem solving research and innovation, focused transferable technology developments, community supporting focused training and related activities in the sector and enhance scientific publications and other dissemination activities.
6. Research Thematic Areas
At present, most Ethiopian Leather processing and product industries and SME’s are facing a serious problem related to shortage of finished leather, lack of quality raw material, design weaknesses, manufacturing related problems, lack of Effluent treatment, lack of good management etc (LIDI 2017, UNIDO 2012). In this connection, EiTEX-BDU staff under LPP-RIC conducting researches based on regional as well as international communities to address specific problems in the sector. The LPP-RIC has identified different research thematic areas in line with national priorities and strategies. The specific research works to address the theme of the center are carried out by LRI teams as per the detailed thematic areas mentioned below.
6.1. Leather processing Technology LRI Thematic areas
- Animal husbandry and production of hide and skin in Ethiopia.
- Leather and Leather products supply chain.
- Advanced technology in raw skin/hide curing;
- Bio-engineering technology in pre-tanning operation;
- Application of nano-material in leather tanning and finishing;
- Use of organic de-liming agents and enzymatic bating;
- Applied research in leather analysis (Physio-chemical and structural study);
- Tannery waste management and utilization of leather wastes and by products for composite and high value products manufacturing;
- Reuse of used salt in leather industry;
- Chrome recycling technologies (recovery and re-use);
- Advanced in-process tannery liquid waste treatment;
- Clean innovative technologies and processes in leather making (Organic or metal free, chrome free tanning, salt free tanning, vegetable tanning technology, chrome tanning, polymers in tanning, etc
- Re-tanning and dyeing technology that reduce production time, enhance quality and reduced waste discharge volume (super critical CO2 fluid technology, etc);
- Application of polish ground and polishing technology;
- Padding, spraying, roller coating and embossing technology;
- Powder coating, digital printing, and foil finish technologies;
- Manufacturing of wetting agent, degreasing agents and vegetable tannins locally;
- Computer aided color matching technologies in dyeing;
- Extraction of natural dye stuff from plants;
- Kaizen based productivity improvement;
- Leather quality, productivity and production system improvement and management.
- Development, modification, and adoption of leather processing equipment and tools;
- Synthetic Leather Production
- Survey of the traditional leather makers in the country.
- Training to upgrade the skill of operators in all areas of operation.
6.2. Leather products Technology LRI Thematic areas:
- Fashion forecasting, merchandising practices and alternative material in leather products development;
- Leather product development and diversification.
- Computer aided footwear designing technology (shoe master creative and power, 2D and 3D solution, 3D foot and last digitizer, etc);
- Computer aided leather goods and garment designing and pattern making technology (elyton system, gerbera full package, fashion pro, Electra gamine, 3D scanner, etc);
- Technologies for cutting operations (semi-automated cutting, computer aided cutting and die-less cutting technology, etc);
- Leather products stitching and assembling technology;
- Footwear lasting and finishing technology for different shoe construction types;
- Manufacturing of leather products chemical and finishing material technology (thinner, cleaner, primers, creams, wax, water based adhesive, solvent based adhesive, etc)
- Packaging and labeling technology (tissue paper, carton, digital printing, polybag, silicon, etc);
- Manufacturing of Leather accessories technology (trims, eyelets, buckles, etc);
- Manufacturing of bottom component and reinforcement material technology (toe puff, stiffener, cellulose, shank board, steel shank, etc)
- Advanced sole manufacturing technology (rubber, TPR, PVC, PU, EVA soles, etc);
- Technology for plastic and metal last, sole making, and different molds;
- Technology for bottom, reinforcement material, accessories and chemicals;
- Development of eco-friendly leather products and commercialization;
- Development and modification of leather products technology equipment and tools
- Quality and productivity improvement techniques in leather products manufacturing;
- Leather products testing technology;
- Research & development on sustainable supply chain management;
- Development and implementation of coordinated industry level waste management system;
- Studying of Ethiopian traditional leather product artifacts;
- Leather and Leather products value chain and supply chain management;
- Standardization and development of packaging and labeling;
- Process and product standardization
- Designing data base and information management system
- Training to upgrade the skill of operators in all areas of operation.
- Design and Development Ethiopian Footwear Size Chart Using 3D Scan;
- Designing and developing ERP system and software for Ethiopian leather industry
6.3. LPP-RIC Research Application Procedures
EiTEX, Leather processing and products research and Innovation center (LPP-RIC) invites applications from the researcher through a clear announcement. Applications that meet the objective and eligibility criteria of the center can be submitted within the due date to center electronically as well as hard copy in the prescribed format stipulated by the center. The teaching staff, technical staffs and students of the Ethiopian Institute of Textile and Fashion Technology-Bahir Dar University (EiTEX-BDU) are eligible for submitting the research proposal on the topic of relevance to Leather processing and Leather products manufacturing sector. The research project will be selected based on the following criteria:
- Whether the project complies with one of the Thematic areas of the centre;
- The technical feasibility;
- Commercialization plan in the future;
- Whether the products, technologies or systems (even though these may be available overseas) will meet the needs of the local Leather and Leather product manufacturing industry and SME;
- Whether the proposed budget is reasonable and realistic and/or whether the project can be funded by other sources;
- Whether the project will benefit at least a certain sector of the industry and SME.
- Relevance with government policies or in the overall interest of the community;
- Environmental friendliness of the project product and process etc.
7. Facility and Laboratory
At present the center has two laboratories for undergraduate teaching, research works, testing service and production. The center is working to upgrade the laboratories to an international standard level and to set additional technical laboratories for expanding the range of research and product development.
The center is providing service in leather processing and leather product manufacturing, applied research, testing, training, consultancy, product development and production by closely interacting with the industry, small enterprises, and research and development organizations, academic institutes and stakeholders. Besides the above mentioned, reviewing activities of curriculum and updating teaching materials, providing professional community services and necessary materials and human resources.
9. LLP-RIC completed Research works:
- Study on assurance of fitting of physical, mechanical and serviceability properties of basic shoe uppers in Ethiopia shoe factories against ISO standard requirements.
- Synthesis of fat liquor slaughter house waster & applicant in leather processing.
- Design and development of manual leather skin setting out tool.
- Waste minimization in leather cutting of footwear sectors
- Up-gradation techniques for improving leather quality in Ethiopian tanneries
- Study on assurance of fitting of physical, mechanical and serviceability properties of basic shoe uppers in Ethiopia
- Shoe factories against ISO standard requirements
- Synthesis of fat liquor slaughter house waster & applicant in leather processing
- Value Addition on Ethiopian Goat Skins
- Bio-processing of Leather
- Saminathan Ratnapandian & Taame Birhanu, Extraction and Optimization of Natural Dye from Hambo Hambo (Cassia singueana) Plant Used for Coloration of Tanned Leather Materials, Advances in Materials Science and Engineering, Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 7516409.
- Durairaj Dhanapal, Practical Analysis of Bonding Failure Reasons in Footwear Production, International Journal of Current Research, Volume 09, Issue 06, Page no.53394, 30.06.2017.
- Durairaj Dhanapal, Gebrehiwot Asfaha and Tesfay Geremaryam, Application of TPM -Tools to Improve Overall Productivity of Closing Line in Footwear Industry.
- D. Dhanapal, K.Raja Kannan and Gebrehiwot Asfah, PU Memory Foam for Application as Insole in Therapeutic Footwear for Patients with Diabetes.
- Nano finishing of Textiles for Sportswear, Nalankilli Govindan and Kanjana Subramanian, International Journal for Scientific Research & Development, Vol. 5, No. 07, pp32-36, 2017.
- Zerihun Teshome, Reducing growth marks on cowhide and vein mark on Goatskin in tannery", Lambert Academic Publishing, ISBN 978-6L5-9-84554-5, 2018.
- Female foot planter pressure problems in high heel fashion footwear
- Analysis of footwear slip resistance in water and oil conditioned floor tiles
- Study and comparison of foot planter pressure on PU visco-elastic foam and EVA insole materials.
- A review –special recommendation footwear for older peoples at risk of falling injuries.
- Practical analysis of adhesives bonding failure reasons in footwear production.
- Leather cutting and wastage minimization techniques in footwear industry.
11. Community service, Technology Transfer and consultancy services
Moreover, the center is doing on transferring different knowledge, skills and technology in the area of Leather processing and leather product manufacturing for the community by identifying the sectors demand.
Fitsum Efeta [Lecturer]
Director of Leather Processing and Product RIC
Ethiopian Institute of Textile and Fashion Technology [EiTEX]
Bahir Dar University
Mobile : +251-917101452
P.O Box: 1037